Your Thursday Briefing
Near the village of Vasilika, on the Greek island of Evia, on Tuesday: “We lived in paradise — now it’s hell.”Credit…Eirini Vourloumis for The …
Near the village of Vasilika, on the Greek island of Evia, on Tuesday: “We lived in paradise — now it’s hell.”Credit…Eirini Vourloumis for The New York Times
Destructive wildfires in Greece
Fires around the northern parts of Evia, Greece’s second-largest island, have destroyed more than 120,000 acres of pine forest, razed homes and displaced hundreds of people. More than 20 countries have offered assistance in battling the blazes, and the Greek prime minister has declared them “a natural disaster of unprecedented dimensions.”
A record-breaking heat wave that has touched temperatures of up to 46 degrees Celsius, or 115 degrees Fahrenheit, has also set off wildfires in Sweden, Finland and Norway, in yet another episode of extreme weather brought on by the man-made climate change that scientists have now concluded is irreversible.
Elsewhere in Europe, floods that used to come once in a millennium in Germany, Belgium, Switzerland and the Netherlands have killed at least 196 people. Some places in Italy reached more than 118 degrees Fahrenheit this week, while parts of the country were variously scorched by fire, battered by hailstorms or inundated by floods.
Extreme weather: Dozens of people were rescued and others were missing after floods tore through Turkey, submerging roadways and cutting off access to large areas.
Related: The heat wave that sizzled the Pacific Northwest appears to have been much deadlier than official estimates, according to a Times analysis. During one sweltering week in late June, about 600 more people died in Oregon and Washington than would have been typical.
The U.S. battles the surging Delta variant
Federal health officials in the U.S. have urged pregnant people to be immunized against Covid-19, after new safety data found no increased risk of miscarriage among those who were immunized during the first 20 weeks of a pregnancy.
The advisory comes as the country battles the more infectious Delta variant of the virus, which has made deadly inroads among unvaccinated populations. In recent days, Texas has averaged about 12,400 new cases a day, nearly double the number seen just two weeks ago, according to a New York Times database.
Hospitals in the state are overwhelmed with coronavirus patients, with some resorting to overflow tents outdoors. More than 10,000 Texans have been hospitalized this week, and at least 53 hospitals were at maximum capacity in their intensive care units.
By the numbers: About one in five U.S. hospitals with intensive care units, or 583 total hospitals, recently reported that at least 95 percent of their I.C.U. beds were full.
Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.
In other developments:
The World Health Organization is testing three additional drugs as part of a global trial to find effective treatments for Covid-19.
The Pan American Health Organization plans to distribute millions of Covid vaccines in Latin America and the Caribbean starting this fall.
Regulators in the U.S. are expected to authorize a third shot of the Covid vaccine for certain people with weakened immune systems.
Questions over Trump golf course funding
Donald Trump may be forced to explain how he funded the purchase of two golf courses in Scotland, opening a path to a possible investigation.
The Scottish government had resisted pressure to demand financial details from Trump through an “unexplained wealth order,” a powerful legal instrument usually deployed against leading figures in organized crime or drug trafficking. But on Wednesday, a Scottish judge ruled that Avaaz, an online campaign group, should be given the right to challenge the government’s rejection of calls for such a move.
Though it remains far from clear that such an investigation will ever arise in this case, Wednesday’s court decision is nonetheless a setback for the former president, whose financial and tax dealings are under investigation in the U.S.
Quotable: “If you don’t think there is reasonable suspicion over these purchases, then I don’t think you’ve been paying attention,” said Nick Flynn, legal director of Avaaz. “It’s the collective responsibility of Scottish ministers to act on this.”
Election fraud: Byung Pak, a former U.S. attorney in Atlanta, told congressional investigators that he had resigned abruptly in January after a warning from Justice Department officials that Trump intended to fire him for refusing to say that widespread voter fraud had been found in Georgia.
New ruling: Trump’s accounting firm must give Congress his tax and other financial records from his time in the White House, a judge ruled yesterday.
THE LATEST NEWS
Other Big Stories
The Taliban have overrun nine provincial capitals in Afghanistan, stoking fears that the insurgents could take the capital, Kabul. While the government has refused to acknowledge the falling capitals, the acting finance minister has fled the country.
A Chinese court sentenced Michael Spavor, a Canadian, to 11 years in prison. The prosecution has widely been seen as political retaliation by China against Canada for the detention of a Chinese technology executive.
Russia brought a new charge against the opposition leader Aleksei Navalny, who now faces an additional three years in prison.
News From Europe
The British salon industry has vowed to improve its expertise with Black hair. Some worry that the change could take customers from existing Black-owned salons.
An employee of the British Embassy in Germany has been detained on suspicion of handing over documents from the embassy to Russian intelligence.
Lionel Messi was greeted with cheers at his new soccer club, Paris St.-Germain.
What Else Is Happening
Texas Republicans ordered the arrest of Democrats who missed voting sessions for a conservative bill that critics said would stifle voting rights.
The U.S. Senate approved a $3.5 trillion budget blueprint despite unanimous Republican opposition. Some key Democrats voiced opposition to the price tag, setting up a battle over the final package.
Instagram is rolling out new features to make racist material harder to view.
A Morning Read
Fourteen years ago, a mother organized a gender-nonconforming summer camp where children were free to express themselves. A photographer caught up with some of the kids a decade later, as they entered adulthood.
Elias, above, spent four summers at Camp I Am. “Back then, I was two different Eliases: School/Outdoors Elias and Dress-Up Elias,” he said. “At camp, I could be Dress-Up Elias the whole time.”
ARTS AND IDEAS
The Edinburgh Fringe, writ small
Before the pandemic, the Edinburgh Fringe, which opened on Friday and runs through Aug. 30, was surpassed by only the Olympics and the soccer World Cup in terms of audience size. But some locals had called for a smaller festival — a wish granted by the pandemic.
In 2019, when it was last held, the Fringe sold more than three million tickets for 3,841 shows at 323 venues. This year will see fewer than 850 shows presented, of which a third are online, after a $1.4 million government bailout to cover costs for the canceled event in 2020.
The Fringe is built on the principle of open access for performers, meaning any acts that pay a registration fee can present a show, Malcolm Jack writes — “a free-spirited alternative to the highbrow Edinburgh International Festival.”
Though slimmer, this year’s program is typically weird and wonderful: stand-up comics; a choral drama about migration staged on an out-of-town beach; and an educational walking tour, led by pelvic physiotherapist, titled, “Viva Your Vulva.”
Read more about this year’s unusual Fringe Festival.
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to Cook
Crisp edges and a silky topping: Don’t sleep on this eggplant and ricotta focaccia.
High-intensity interval training has surprising benefits for fitness and physical power.
What to Watch
“The Macaluso Sisters,” from the Italian filmmaker Emma Dante, is a haunting, powerful tale about one Sicilian family.
Now Time to Play
Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: “So it goes” (four letters).
And here is the Spelling Bee.
You can find all our puzzles here.
That’s it for today’s briefing. Thanks for joining me. — Natasha
P.S. A hidden haiku from a Times story about swimming with a manta ray in Hawaii: “I tried to race it / and lost, giddy and full of / awe at the sighting.”
The latest episode of “The Daily” is about the resignation of New York’s governor.
You can reach Natasha and the team at [email protected].